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A post on where I’ve been (and the future – oo-err)

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Do you ever wake up and think, “this business lark seems like a real struggle”?

Perhaps you do, and perhaps you don’t. Some of you may not even be self-employed like I am, while some others might be raring to go and basically kicking business ARSE (and to you, I send rapturous applause).

Either way, I’m willing to bet some people have been, or even are feeling like business is a struggle.

It’s not about having the wrong clients (my clients are all amazing – OFFICIALLY AWESOME, the lot of ’em), or the amazing people I’ve met through starting Jane&Philbert.

It’s about ME.

Back in 2010, I was stuck and bored and living a pretty mediocre life in a web development job that didn’t light me up, earning OK money (despite being paid less than my male colleagues), but burned out from excessive overtime and trying to “prove” I was just as good as the boys. It was like I would wake up saying to myself, “Cooome oonnn, Gemma, there MUST be more to life than this?!”, then swallow that feeling down and carry on with my day. I felt like every day was spent swimming upstream wearing a coat made of bricks.

Sometimes, I’d look around at other people and wonder if anyone else felt the same way. Everyone else seemed to have their shit together. Everyone else seemed to look content – I mean, not ecstatic or in a constant state of orgasm or anything, because, well, I think we’d all agree THAT would be fucking weird – but content, like things were pootling along pretty well.

Was I just a big ol’ weirdo? Or perhaps I was just selfish.

So, after months and months of discontent, I decided to start my own business.

Problem was, it was a “in-YOUR-FACE-all-the-shitty-jobs-I-ever-had-I’ll-show-YOU-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner” business. It’s sole purpose was to “show” all those places I worked before, all those people who didn’t believe in me, all those bosses who didn’t pay me enough that I, Gemma Regalado-Hawkey, was ELEVENTY BILLION TIMES BETTER THAN THEY WERE.

It. Fucking. Bombed.

I had no idea about how to focus my attention on the things I was good at, no idea about how to market myself, no idea I HAD to market myself. As a new business owner, I sucked SO HARD.

Just over a year later towards the end of 2011, I was now a mother to a 4 month old baby girl, with a new, emerging idea for a business (if a little bleary-eyed). I just started creating pre-designed logos and selling them from an Etsy shop.

People bought them – don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really making anything that I could live off – but people buying things that you create, and being grateful and excited to use them, well, WOW, that was a new experience to me. I was earning about £200 a month (I know, hilariously NOTHING, but about £199 a month MORE than what I was earning with my first business).

I decided to re-introduce the web design as an option, and a few people bought packages. I earned a little more – still nothing that could really pay a mortgage, but I could at least fill my car with petrol.

Then I started the blog, and suddenly, I could write about all the things that people asked me, and I realised that if I wrote about stuff as if I were TALKING – incorrect grammar and creative swearing included – it actually fucking RESONATED with people. WHO FUCKING KNEW?!?!

And for a while, I felt I was getting somewhere. People liked what I was saying, I created a little freebie course that lots of subscribers raved about, which I am forever grateful for. I upped my prices, and I stopped the logo design to focus on web design.

BUT – and it was big-ass BUT (but not a butt – ah balls, you know what I mean) – in all this time of running my own business, I’d never asked myself this:

“Is designing websites what I *actually* want to do?”

HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS WOAH. How, I mean, HOW had I never asked myself that before?!

So I rewound the clock. How did I ever get in to web design and web development?

Well, my first web design job was after I finished my Computer Science degree. It was the closest thing to the degree I took, but that also allowed a nice little creative leeway. My family wouldn’t think they’d “wasted” all thei money on sending me to uni because I was doing something *kind of* in line with the degree I took (even though, secretly, I found the degree boring)

So, if I found it boring, Why did I take Computer Science as my degree? I can dress it up in many outfits, but essentially, I took Comp Sci as I was trying to make my parents proud of me.

There, it’s all out there, out in the open. I’ve spent the last twelve years of my life fighting the real me in order to make my parents proud of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t HATE web design, I actually quite like it, and I think I’m quite good at it. But there are more than a few days where running a web design business feels a little bit like swimming upstream again wearing that brick coat.

Which leads me neatly to this:

What about the future?

For me, I am genuinely unsure. I know I want to continue being self-employed. I know I want to have a direct positive impact on people’s lives rather than on one facet of people’s online marketng stratgey. I know I’m not a good fit to be a coach. I know I need to take a step back from web design in order to welcome in new business ideas (and I am TOTALLY open to suggestions, in case you want to send any my way)

As for Jane&Philbert, I plan on keeping the site up and running, but it won’t be updated. Comments are always encouraged, and I will read them, and reply where possible. Pimp that ‘Press Site will still be there, so any new subscribers can get all the goodness inside that as well. I’m not taking on any more projects, but for the time being, I will be supporting customers who have had websites or projects that started since the start of 2014.

But most of all, I’d still love to hear from you guys. Knowing that I’ve been able to assist you, even in a small way, is basically the greatest, most humbling feeling ever. I am EVER-GRATEFUL to everyone who has subscribed, or emailed, or commented, or shared content. It’s amazing, truly.

If you want to keep in touch and find out more about what’s next for me, you can drop your deets here: http://eepurl.com/VwpLj.


Love you all, and see you around

Gemma x

P.S. My own personal mindset coach has a brand new live course out – I cannot rate the awesomeness of this woman more highly! If you’re feeling stuck, but want a delicious life, check out my “I recommend” page for more information

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currently there's 3 comment(s)

  • Damien

    commented on May 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

    You’re not alone. The big questions isn’t can I do this but is this what I really want to be doing. My wife has a maternity site and I’ve been designing sites for years and we’ve both been hit by that thunderbolt recently. We’re powering down our old sites and waiting for inspiration on what to do next. Its pretty amazing to feel both free and scared shitless at the same time.
    God knows what’s coming next but its got to be awesome and make me tingle.
    By the way everyone is going to think your an absolute nutter, but feck em, Life’s not a dress rehearsal.

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on May 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Ahh, thank you Damien – so many people are in the same boat. I completely agree, life is happening right now, and I UTTERLY and COMPLETELY hear the feeling free but scared shitless at the same time conundrum. But, without scaring ourselves, we don’t have room to grow, right?

      Best of luck with your transition – and I am SURE people will think I’m crazy. They aren’t the people I’m trying to convince 🙂

      Thank you x

      • Stephanie

        commented on May 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

        Thank you for your honesty! I actually just got hired as a graphic designer/ production assistant and this wll be my FIRST graphic design job. I am excited, but also nervous that I may not like it, so I understand how you feel. The feeling of uncertainty IS scary, but you will never know what truly lies ahead if you don’t try. Sometimes we just have to test the waters ourselves. Nothing wrong with that! You always have web design to fall back on and you’re pretty good at it, so you will be fine either way! Good luck to you in the future 🙂